How to play the Square Cut Shot in Cricket Perfectly?

India vs Pakistan in the 2003 ICC World Cup, the two giants of the cricketing world go head to head in one of the biggest competitions of the sport. India were tasked to chase down a challenging total of 273 against Pakistan’s fearsome  bowling attack. But, this studded bowling lineup was going to go against one of the greatest players to ever grace the sport, the God of Cricket himself. Shoaib Akhtar, one of the most feared bowlers then, ran upto the crease to bowl against Sachin Tendulkar, who had carried the Indian batting lineup throughout the tournament, and what happened next changed this rivalry forever. 

A side view and the front view of Sachin Tendulkar's iconic square cut against Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup

Credit: The Sports News

Shoaib Akhtar bowled at upwards of 150 kmph and went short and wide, away from the off stump. Sachin just opened the face of his bat and hit the ball over the top of point and smashed it for a 6. 

Pakistan were the team who dominated India in international matches until then, but that square cut cricket shot changed the course of this domination. 

Now that you’ve listened to this story about the square cut cricket shot, in this chapter of Learn with ZAP, let’s understand the shot in depth and know how to play the square cut in cricket. 

What is the square cut cricket shot?

This shot is a horizontal-bat stroke played on the back foot to deliveries short and outside the off stump, both against pacers and spinners. You use the ball's pace to direct it square, through the open space between the cover point and point on the offside, or sometimes ever finer, behind point. Perfect timing, footwork, the right decision making as per when is the right time and ball to play the shot are necessary to master it. But if the ball is not as short and closer to your body, you should go for a backfoot cover drive rather than a cut shot.

Here’s how to play the Square Cut Cricket Shot Perfectly:

A Player shows how to play the square cut cricket shot in 3 simple steps

Credit: BBC News

This stroke can be easy to play and score runs with, but comes with its own risk. There are some mistakes you need to avoid, which you’ll learn in the later part. Your batting technique needs to be spot on when you’re playing this stroke, which will help you target the offside boundaries with ease. And not just boundaries, this can be a useful tool in your arsenal to target the usually empty deep point, and backward point fielding positions to rotate strike frequently. Here’s how you do it:

Stance, Footwork and Body Positioning:

  • An efficient square cut requires good stance, footwork and body placement. 
  • You need to have a relaxed and still batting stance, just  the way you would normally stay. 
  • As the bowler releases the ball, you swiftly need to position yourself on the backfoot to give yourself time and space to swing your bat freely. 
  • Your body weight should mainly be rested upon the backfoot, and your eyes directly focused on the ball.

Timing and Balance: Keys to Perfection

  • The square cut is all about timing and balance.To get the best results, it is crucial to have the appropriate power and finding the gap.  
  • A well-timed shot ensures that the ball is hit off of the middle your cricket bat and has enough power behind it to reach the boundary, while maintaining balance helps in controlling the direction, so that you don't just play it in the hands of the fielder within the 30 yard circle during the powerplay
  • Just wait for the ball to come within your hitting zone before unleashing the shot.
  • There’s also a slight difference in how you play it against spinners and against pacers. For spinner’s lean back onto your backfoot, while for pacers, shift your weight behind and go upright, to cover the bounce on the ball. 
Rahul Dravid plays the perfect square cut cricket shot

Credit: Playo

Executing the Shot: A Step-by-Step Guide

Assessing the Ball's Line and Length:

  • Before preparing for the square cut, you need to assess the line and length of the bowler’s delivery. Stay a step ahead of the opposition, by reading the field placement. 
  • Usually, if the bowler Is going to go short and wide outside off, there’ll be a point and a third man in place. 
  • Reading the field placements can provide valuable clues about where the ball might be pitched.

Adopting the Correct Stance and grip:

  • A balanced and ready stance is crucial for any cricketing shot. 
  • For the square cut, position yourself slightly behind the line of the ball and get on your toes to be prepared for quick movement. 
  • Hold the bat with a firm but relaxed grip. 
  • Position the bat close to the back foot, keeping the face slightly open to guide the strokethrough the gaps.
  • Wear the right pair of cricket gloves that are comfortable and lightweight that help is the perfect execution of the shot. 
Virat Kohli square cuts a cricket ball against a spinner

Credit: Playo

Playing the Shot:

  • Depending on the line, length, trajectory of the ball and the fielding set up, decide whether to play the stroke aggressively or defensively. 
  • Have a smooth backlift and ensure the toe of the bat points towards the gully. As the delivery gets closer to your body, swing the bat down with the right timing and control, with a horizontal downswing and hit it on the off side. 
  • The strength behind the shot should come with the swing of your bat and also the explosive movement of your body weight. 
  • Once the ball makes contact with the bat, roll your wrists and follow through to complete the stroke.
  • Tips for Perfecting the Square Cut Cricket Shot:

    Patience and Judgment:

    Be patient and judge the ball well before committing to play the shot. Don’t be predetermined to play it, or you might end up making a mistake and losing your wicket.  


    Practice footwork well because swift footwork is key. To create the necessary space and maintain balance while completing the square cut, excellent footwork is essential. Invest in a comfortable pair of batting pads that help in in quick footwork so that you are able to play every ball with confidence. 

    Eyes on the Ball:

    Throughout the ball's trajectory, keep your eyes firmly fixed on it. This helps in making precise contact and place the stroke well. Choose a helmet that gives you unbreakable protection without adding a hindrance in your vision. 

    Practice with the Throwdowns:

    Regular practice with throwdowns or tennis balls will help sharpen your reflexes and enhance your ability to play the stroke effectively.

    Sachin Tendulkar flies in the air to play a square cut cricket shot, by covering the bounce of the ball

    Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

    Common Mistakes to Avoid:

    Not judging the line and length:

    Once again, if you don’t judge the line and length, you’ll find yourself in a fix. If the ball is too close to your body, or the stumps, you should avoid playing the stroke. 

    Also, if it is much away from you, don’t be tempted. Any mistake and the leather will fly off your edge in the hands of the slip. 

    Lack of Foot Movement:

    Inadequate footwork can lead to mistimed shots or getting caught in awkward positions.


    Q- What are the differences between a square cut and a backfoot cover drive?

    The square cut and backfoot cover drive are both played on the off side, but the former one is played squarer, behind the point and the latter is played towards cover and extra cover. 

    Q- What should I do if the ball is too close to my body to play the square cut?

    If the ball is too close to your body, try not to play the shot, it might involve a lot of risk. You could get out lbw or get bowled. 

    Q- Which players played the best square cut?

    Legendary players like Ricky Ponting, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh and Rohit Sharma were some players to play the shot extremely well. 

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